January 05, 2016

Cutting Edges 1: La Jetee Film Review

La Jetee Film Review
Figure 1: Film poster
La Jetee is a French feature in the science fiction genre, by Chris Marker. Chris Marker was a French writer, photographer, multimedia artist and documentary film director. It is a film set in a post-apocalyptic future, where a man is used for experiments in time travel. He is sent back in time and falls in love with a woman who once saw on a pier. At the end of the experiment he is offered a chance to journey into the future, but refuses and asks to be sent back in time to the past where he can live with the woman which he loves.
Figure 2: Film Still
La Jetee is different to a lot of films, because almost the whole film is constructed entirely from photographs. Despite the lack of moving imagery, the short feature is very engaging, thought provoking, and captures an audience just as much as any other motion picture would. It succeeds in being consistent enough to keep the viewer interested in the story even though there is not a lot going on in terms of the still pictures. However, in some parts the audio is very muffled, perhaps because it is originally a French speaker and you cannot hear what is being said clearly. It is easy to get lost in the plot if you do not pay attention to certain parts.
The photographs are in black and white and are very contrasting, depressing and moody looking. They create an atmosphere because of the gloomy scenes they show, of poorly lit underground scenes, destruction, war, pain, and the strong contrasting of the white against black makes it seem more sombre and bleak.
“The soundtrack's texture is similarly sparse, and the fluid montage leads the viewer into the sensation of watching moving images. Until, that is, an extraordinary epiphany when an image genuinely does move.” (Geoff Andrew, 2006)
Andrew explains the soundtrack as being ‘sparse’, which is true in the sense that there is not a lot of soundtrack, but nonetheless it is not sparse in the sense of the vast atmosphere it creates. The soundtrack is mainly thumping beats, which sound a lot like footsteps getting closer and the getting further away, but then also transforms into sounds which resemble heart beats. Andrew also describes the fluidity of the images which immerse us is in the story, and after a while you do not realise you are watching a series of photographs, as it all seems to move together as one.
Figure 3: Film Still
“Composed only of black and white stills and a moody narration (by Jean Négroni), "La Jetée" is a surprising proof of the power of cinematic narrative even when there are no literal movements on screen.” (Ivan D, 2012)
D also describes La Jetee as a moody film, and tells us of how his experience watching the film was so powerful even though there were no movements on screen. It really shows that simplicity sometimes is all you need to convey a brilliant story and plot, and you do not even need every detail of movement and action to make a film have a big impact.
Figure 4: Film still
“Very haunting and moody, fragmented to a fault but deliberatly so, La Jetée is still to this date one of the most fascinating sci-fi movies ever made either by the way it is presented to us or by the cautionary tale it's telling, never forgetting the humanitarian value that is inherent to the genre.” (Francisco, 2011)
Francisco describes this film as fragmented, which it is because there are still images being shown in a slideshow like manner to create a film. It is deliberate because you seem to forget about the lack of movement, as you start to imagine how the scene unfolds and pans out yourself, instead of having it shown to you through somebody else’s idea. 

(Figure 3)  Allfordeadtime.files.wordpress.com, (2016). [online] Available at:          https://allfordeadtime.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/fetch.jpg [Accessed 5 Jan. 2016].
(Figure 2) Cine-city.co.uk, (2016). [online] Available at: http://www.cine-city.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/la-jetee-image-2.jpg [Accessed 5 Jan. 2016].
(Figure 4) I.ytimg.com, (2016). [online] Available at: https://i.ytimg.com/vi/UO21XtLOsD4/maxresdefault.jpg [Accessed 5 Jan. 2016].
(Figure 1) Readbykevin.files.wordpress.com, (2016). [online] Available at: https://readbykevin.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/la-jetee.jpg [Accessed 5 Jan. 2016].
Rottentomatoes.com, (2016). La Jetee (The Pier). [online] Available at: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/la_jetee/ [Accessed 5 Jan. 2016].
Time Out London, (2016). La Jetée. [online] Available at: http://www.timeout.com/london/film/la-jetee [Accessed 5 Jan. 2016].

1 comment:

  1. Thoughtful review, Becky :)
    Don't forget that you need to italicise the quotes, and also the film name..